Hebrews 12:5 & 6, NRSV, “And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children— ‘My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, or lose heart when you are punished by him; for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves, and chastises every child whom he accepts.’”
Ok, repentance. I have it today. I have sometimes been asked about the voice of the Lord, how to tell that it is him and not the attacks of Satan, needless guilt. I can’t give a course on how to do this, although I have the experience to, but I can tell what my experience has been. The good thing is that listening to God’s voice through His Spirit, is like prayer, or exercise, it gets easier the longer you do it. I know that some people struggle deeply with this. The desire is there, but it is like white noise or a glass ceiling. Often efforts get clouded with this repeated response. It can be discouraging.
I had an altercation this morning. I felt the whole thing…the burning flesh, the indignation, the desire to be right, the desire to crush the enemy. I remember sitting there for a second after it was seemingly done, and thinking, “I will make you sorry. I cannot forgive you and I certainly am not taking this on myself”. Then I started to weep because I was so angry. I just said His name, “God…I can’t do this”. And believe me, I didn’t want to, but He did. He not only wanted me to understand that He wanted to do this, but He wanted me to see why I was struggling. What was under my need to win? What was under my need to crush? Myself, my sin.
Here is the rule…whenever I am really angry, or even broader than that, whenever I sense my flesh tingle, it is my sin. That is a something for a t-shirt… “If your flesh tingles, don’t let it mingle”… whatever, anyway. When you live in the Spirit, the flesh does not come into play. So, my flesh tingling is an internal alarm, I have to own that; it does not belong here. See, I have been “that girl”, like this morning, who would not be stepped on. You will never get the best of me. You can’t talk to me like that. If you think that you could possibly win against me, you will learn a whole new world of hurt. I have been her. Now when someone crosses me, or when I make a mess of things, I have to send her away, although she is often my first recourse. I have to choose who I will serve in that split second, my flesh or my God. Today, I have done both.
That is really the hard thing, all of this Bible stuff…at some point we have to decide if it is all just the stories of our childhood, one of the philosophies of our time, or is it the rock that I will build on? Will I choose that He is God and is telling me what is true, or will I rely on my stunning track record of relational carnage that I have left behind me? So, when God says that I am supposed to love others more than myself, is this a suggestion? When He tells me that even He came as a servant, He is the least, should I expect more than that for my life?
I use His name. I call myself a Christian; I belong to Him. So, does that mean that I like Him? I belonged to a sorority in college and, guaranteed, I did not like all of the girls in that. I have even belonged to church groups where it was really hard to understand how I was supposed to love everyone. I found myself nuancing the word love, so that I could just make it in there. Being a Christian is belonging to the identity of Christ. We have no groups like that on earth. The Bible tells us that we have been adopted. Taking on His identity, as my familial patriarch, means wanting to know Him, and yes, unapologetically, that means that we need to get our eyes on the word and our hearts at His throne. We are Christians, we belong to His family. Didn’t you want to know your dad?
The conceit that I have shown in my life is a metaphorical Kilimanjaro. I was listening to a song yesterday that said something like, “I don’t want to wonder what this life would have been like if I had given it all”. I don’t want to get to heaven and be like, “Oh, you actually meant that.” I want to fight now and here!!! And that means that sometimes I have to sit there and internally combust under the longings of my angry flesh while I set them on the throne of Christ. Ouch and yes. People tell me all of the time, “I know that I shouldn’t but…” Yep, you shouldn’t. I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t have been deceived into thinking that I was involved in a blameless situation this morning, when I was only concerned for myself.
Side note: You can’t grow in Christ, comfortably. He is literally cutting the junk out of you. Stuff that we have befriended, and now serves no purpose other than irrelevant survival techniques, is being mutilated out of us. Uncomfy.
Let me tell you what happened after the altercation. I sat crying and crying out, alone. I moaned out a, “why”, and an, “I don’t understand”. Then He gave me a name for what I was really feeling. The word was, “embarrassed”. My pride is involved. I was protecting myself. So, I cried and cried, realizing that I was to blame for my behavior and that my motives were not pure. Then God gave me righteous shame. I am ashamed for my prideful sin. I went to the dark laundry room and closed the door. I just wept and wept. My heart was just breaking and I was thinking that my legs might not hold me up. A housewife leaning on the dryer begging forgiveness… repentance in suburbia.
I was thinking. This is the language of God. I was repentant because He brought me to Him. I was not scared. I was not questioning who it was talking to me over the cotton/towels cycle. I knew that I was safe and that my heart was the desired offering. He was meeting me there. He always meets me in repentance…always. I never go there alone, and with mercy, and grace, and love He walks the halls of my heart and helps me offer those things to Him. He is so gentle, and what comes next? Freedom. Love. Knowing Him more. The ease of talking to Him with a clearer conscience, hearing with clearer ears. I can desire Him more when there is less garbage in my head.
So, that is my day. How has yours been? Really, I would love to hear.
Father, thank you for the repentant heart. Thank you for showing me what real love and safety are. Bring yourself to us, Lord, in any way that you can. Let us not be afraid of committing to this life in you.